Australia’s national science agency has committed $3 million to support Melbourne-based BioTech incubator CUREator and to launch a new health security stream through the program.
CUREator’s new health security stream will award $1 million over three years to projects in fields such as emerging infectious diseases and pandemics research, and therapies targeting chemical, biological and radiological threats.
Health security is the fifth funding stream available under CUREator, alongside preclinical drug or medical innovation, clinical-stage drug opportunities, medical devices, and digital health.
CUREator was founded in 2021 with almost $40 million from the federal government’s $80 million Medical Research Commercialisation Initiative under the long-term Medical Research Future Fund. The incubator program is managed by Brandon BioCatalyst.
The federal funding is over three years with $19.75 million awarded for preclinical medical research or innovation with commercial potential, and the remaining $19.75 million to support early clinical development of novel drugs or novel uses with commercial potential.
Brandon BioCatalyst, formerly known as Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, is a collaboration between 50 medical research institutes, investors, superannuation funds, and government to focus on advancing novel medical therapies and technologies.
It is the largest science investment collaboration in Australia and New Zealand. Life sciences venture capital firm Brandon Capital manages Brandon BioCatalyst and also has teams in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Round two of the incubator program will start accepting expressions of interest later this month. When the round open, applications can be submitted here. All Australian researchers at the preclinical stage of biomedical innovation are eligible to apply.
The successful applicants through the first round of the program, which was the preclinical drug or medical innovation stream, are scheduled to be informed from December 15. Successful applicants through the Biocatalyst may also have opportunities to applying for funding through Brandon Capital. The venture capital firm as invested in more than 40 BioTech companies in its lifetime.
Brandon BioCatalyst chief executive officer Dr Chris Nave said the partnership with CSIRO has helped extend the group’s support for innovation translation.
“With CUREator our aim is to increase the capital and expertise available to progress more of our brilliant research discoveries for the laboratory to the clinic, and ultimately into life-saving new therapies. The CSIRO funding will be specifically focused on technologies that have the potential to protect Australians from future pandemics and health threats,”
Dr Nave said.
“CSIRO has a long and successful track record of using science to create solutions for challenges and opportunities facing our country; so this funding directed toward national health security projects is a natural extension of these endeavors.”
CSIRO director of business development, health and biosecurity Anita van der Meer said that the agency was looking forward to supporting the development of Australian health security capability.
“CSIRO brings an incredible wealth of capability in pandemic preparedness, biomedical research, vaccine development and biomanufacturing. CUREator will play an important role bridging the gap between where research funding ends and seed funding begins, and CSIRO is pleased to support home-grown health security discoveries,”
Ms van der Meer said.